Compass Digital Light
February 23, 2024

Google Grants: Leveraging Free Advertising for Nonprofits

Recently, one of our larger Non-Profit clients came to us with a request to optimize their Google Grants account. As you may or may not know, Google offers up to $10K per month in free advertising for nonprofits.  The challenge is that there are some limitations, and not everyone understands them or is positioned to take advantage of it. As you can see from the chart below, when we took over in Q4 we were able to significantly grow the account and drive significant new incremental traffic.  

So, what’s the catch? Can any non-profit take full advantage? Let’s dig in. 

What are Google Grants?

Google Grants provide eligible nonprofit organizations with up to $10,000 per month in free advertising on Google Search. This initiative allows nonprofits to create text-based ads, appearing in search results when people look up keywords related to the nonprofit’s mission and services. It’s a powerful tool to drive awareness, attract donations, recruit volunteers, and share your story with audiences worldwide. All that said, there are some limitations.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for Google Grants, your organization must:

  • Hold valid charity status in your country. In the U.S., for example, you must be a 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • Have a high-quality website that meets Google’s Ad Grants website policy.

Certain types of organizations are not eligible, such as governmental entities, hospitals and medical groups, schools, academic institutions, and universities. However, philanthropic arms of educational organizations may be eligible.

Best Practices to Maximize Google Grants

1. Keyword Strategy

Develop a strategic keyword list that reflects the services, projects, or issues your nonprofit addresses. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to find relevant keywords with high search volumes and low to medium competition.

2. Compelling Ad Copy

Create ad copy that resonates with your audience. Your ads should clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and why someone should click on your ad. Include a strong call-to-action (CTA) to encourage engagement.

3. Optimize Landing Pages

Ensure that the landing pages your ads point to are optimized for conversions. This means clear messaging, engaging content, and straightforward navigation. Your landing page should align closely with your ad’s promise.

4. Track and Refine

Utilize Google Analytics to track the performance of your ads and landing pages. Analyze the data to understand what’s working and what’s not. Regularly refine your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages based on performance data.

5. Stay Compliant

Google has specific rules for how Google Grants must be used. This includes maintaining a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month, running at least two active ad groups per campaign, and using proper geotargeting. Regularly review and adhere to Google’s policies to ensure your account remains in good standing.

Tips on How to Overcome Challenges in Google Grants

  • Use smart bidding strategies such as “maximize conversions” to overcome the $2 CPC limit. 
  • Set up conversion tracking for events that happen more frequently. For example, if you are tracking donations as conversions, but they aren’t occurring as frequently, you can set other events as conversions to stay compliant with requirements.
  • Use dynamic search ads to leverage your website content. This uses content on your website to find and use relevant keywords automatically. This usually results in higher than 5% CTR.
  • Understand the environment. Google Grants uses a secondary market for bidding on keywords. If your keywords are too popular or have a high commercialized intent you may not have your ads served because paid accounts are taking up impression share. Longer tail keywords work better. Keep in mind that this often means your traffic will be high up the funnel.
  • Work with your content team to come up with pages that can help you gain traffic. If your website doesn’t have content that matches search terms that are relevant to your organization, then create it.

When we took over the account mentioned above,  through use of the process above we were able to also increase the CPC, which is normally limited to $2. 


Google Grants can be a game-changer for nonprofits looking to enhance their digital presence. By following the application steps and best practices outlined above, nonprofits can effectively leverage this powerful tool to increase awareness, drive engagement, and further their cause. Remember, the key to success with Google Grants lies in strategic planning, continuous optimization, and adherence to Google’s policies. Start today and unlock the potential to boost your nonprofit’s impact significantly.

Don’t know where to start with Google Grants? Contact our Director of Growth, Zachary Senvisky.


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